Road Signs of Ecuador

It’s a 20-mile drive from our home to the nearest “major town” in the Manabi province. And from our back door to Jipijapa we go from sea level to 2,500 feet in just a few miles.

I recently took note of the various road signs on this drive and how interesting they are. It’s an interesting commute….

Yes, the inclines are this steep.

Yes, the inclines are this steep.

Puerto Cayo Ecuador

Not to worry, but falling rocks or a mudslide could kill you on this drive.

Not to worry, but falling rocks or a mudslide could kill you on this drive.

For all my associates with the National Rifle Association: Please refrain from shooting the monkeys.

For all my associates with the National Rifle Association: Please refrain from shooting the monkeys.

Puerto Cayo Ecuador

Very typical.

Very typical.

Honestly, I have no idea what this means.

Honestly, I have no idea what this means.

See photo below.

See photo below.

See photo above.

See photo above.

Not a top had, but a speed bump - they are everywhere.

Not a top hat, but a speed bump – they are everywhere.

After a day like we've had, this is precisely where I should be spending my time.

After a day like we’ve had, this is precisely where I should be spending my time.

DSC_0209

Take precaution against the heavy mist. (you are driving through the jungle)

Take precaution against the heavy mist. (you are driving through the jungle)

DSC_0195

Until next time…

Now that the moment’s upon us, I’m not quite sure what to say, or how to say it.

For six months now, Dana and I have awaited this hour, the time when we’d return to Ecuador to breathe new life into a very different future.

In 24 hours we’ll drive 70 miles to Memphis International Airport, take a quick flight to Steve and DanaAtlanta, then on 5,000 miles south to Quito, then Manta, grab a rental car there, and drive an hour further south to Puerto Cayo where our new home is finished and where we’ll set up shop for a new family of marketing-related businesses. Latitude 1 South. We’ve been laying the groundwork there for almost a year.

And quite a year it’s been.

My 71-year-old dad died in January, and for me it created a profound moment, when for the first time, I’d truly assess life’s “vaporish” quality. I began writing my first series of books focusing on redemption. Three months after dad’s passing we made an exploratory trip to Ecuador, purchased a 1/3 acre lot by the beach and began building second home. We joined a new church that helped us better understand our roles as “every-day missionaries,” and just more than 60 days ago the human resource director at the company where I worked called me into his office to say “the owners have decided to go in a different direction, (and you’re not going along for the ride).”

In six months, we've gone from this...

In six months, we’ve gone from this…

Enter Plan B.

Fortunately, the wheels in my head had been turning just enough to assess the possibilities for one last entrepreneurial adventure, this time in a “foreign” land. The moment we first laid eyes on Puerto Cayo, Ecuador, I told Dana it was soon to be something very special and you could see opportunities everywhere. So there’s a be-careful-what-you-wish-for lesson in there somewhere.

Now, we’re headed for a 99-day follow-up trip to see where it might further lead.

A read of Bob Buford‘s Halftime earlier in the year reshaped a part of the way I now think.

... to this...

… to this…

His book’s subtitle is, “Moving from Success to Significance.” What we’re about to do, Buford would say, is  a “seismic test,” a low-to-moderate risk to assess the bigger possibilities for the greater good. And so, our seismic test now begins.

It all means several things for Dana and me, including but not limited to:

  • A willingness to “unlearn” many of the cultural biases that are almost instinctive. We must leave behind the notions that the way we do most things is the correct manner in which to do them. That’s not necessarily true in a very big world.
  • We must exercise patience, and listen a lot more than we talk.
  • That even if this venture fails by our standards, it’s not the end of the world because you never, never, never quit, and God has a plan even when you don’t.
  • A greater understanding that life is a balancing act, and your best is all you can do.
  • Finding new ways to help others understand that redemption, in whatever form it may present itself, is a wonderful and powerful thing.
...to a view like this.

…to a view like this.

My wife saves everything. She’s not a hoarder, but somehow uses her skills to organize our chaotic life. Last night she showed me a few “fortunes” she’d saved from the cookies we’d broken over the last year during visits to some of our favorite Asian restaurants. Yes, she saved the fortune cookie fortunes. A few fortunes read:

  • “You discover treasures where others see nothing unusual.”
  • “Ideas you believe are absurd, ultimately lead to success.”
  • “Others take notice of your radiance. Share your happiness.”
  • “Every production of genius, must first be the product of enthusiasm.”
  • “God looks after you, especially.”

Amazing…

We’ve said our goodbyes to family and friends. And now we go.

To all the readers for whom I’m so very thankful, my next post, and all those that follow for the succeeding 99 days, will be from a new base in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador. We’ll share stories of our new adventure, grab photos of this beautiful land and invite you to enjoy it all with us.

Until then, thanks for coming along. If you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further.

Vaya con Dios for now.

-30-

Arkansas to Ecuador: When God Said ‘Yes’ to Our Most Laughable Dream

Dana and me back in the days of suits, cocktail parties, benefit art auctions and big business.

Dana and me back in the days of suits, cocktail parties, benefit art auctions and big business.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” ~ Proverbs 29:18

It’s been quite a year.

My dad died in January. Dana and I explored Ecuador in April, bought a piece of land and began building a house. I started writing a couple of books, and considered the world of self-employment once again. Two months ago, my corporate day job was eliminated, forcing the issue of previously considered self-employment. We paid off 90 percent of our debts. And we’re now eight days away from getting on a plane to Quito (December 21 – the day the Mayans claim the world will end, I might add) and driving into Puerto Cayo where our house should be finished and our new venture into the world of global marketing will begin.

Each night before bed, I expect to wake up the next morning in a dream, but it hasn’t happened yet.

***

October 31, 2009, is a day I’ll never forget.

Nine months prior I’d cashed out well over six figures (everything I had) to launch a new publishing business that I believed was destined for success. I hired the finest people, (many of whom were good friends) bought the best equipment and leased the most advanced facilities I could imagine to put it all in. We were hi-tech, and we looked good.

On the World Poker Tour they would have said I was “all-in.”

But the world had an ace in the hole.

By July I began seeing signs of something I’d never seen before. Getting money was tougher. Selling advertising, even to my closest of business associates, wasn’t like it was before. Businesses were holding back. I had no idea what it was.

It was then, that I understood what recession meant.

Our revenues dried up. Overhead costs were screaming every day, creditors started calling, and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t pull a rabbit out of a hat.

On the week leading up to October 31, I fired my entire staff of eight and liquidated all our physical assets. Even then, I was $100k in debt, well beyond broke, and for the first time in my life, had NO vision. Not for tomorrow or next week, and certainly not for the next year or five years.

Things went dark very quickly. Very dark. I thought I’d never return the communications business I loved so much. I thought I’d never write again. And for two years, I didn’t.

***

And when daddy died, it all had to come out. So I created a blog and the world changed.

This blog site became a place of healing. Beyond the steadfast support of my wife, Dana, it was the only such source I ever found. I could write about my failures, my anger, and be transparent about it all because I never really had to look anyone in the eye.

Readers came. Comments rolled in, and slowly and gradually, I started thinking again, and a journey began to finding my former self – one blog post at a time.

After dad died in January, I took a good assessment of life’s brevity. It grew into a desire to explore, and do things I’d never before done. It guided Dana and me to an exploratory trip to Ecuador where there was a defining moment  I’ll never forget.

Dana and me, back in business, but a lot more relaxed, less stress and learning to enjoy life and savor the moment.

Dana and me, back in business, but a lot more relaxed, less stress and learning to enjoy life and savor the moment.

After a nine-hour drive from Guayaquil, we finally arrived on an elevated hill just south of Puerto Cayo, and as I looked at the small fishing village with pristine, uninhabited beach as far as the eye could see, I knew something special would happen there soon, with, or without me.

Puerto Cayo, Ecuador. My first view.

Puerto Cayo, Ecuador. My first view.

So we bought a piece of land and started building a house, and managed it all via electronic communication from 6,000 miles away. During that time, we’ve laid the ground work for a family of mass communication marketing companies in a part of the world I like to think of as the New West. Opportunity everywhere. It must have been how Lewis and Clark felt each day as they passed through and explored the Louisiana Purchase en route to the Pacific. A new opportunity around every corner.

They too, must have thought they’d wake up in a dream.

I never thought I’d write again. God got a big laugh out of that one.

“Oh yes you will,” he said. “Just never as you’ve before imagined, my son.”

-30-